The community that grew up around the station was called "Waits" and had its beginning when, in 1910, Andrew Ferguson subdivided his farmland into lots of 100 by 50 feet, on Ferguson Avenue. Businessman John M. Hughes also owned business frontage in that area. The businesses fronted on "The Valley Road," which was the road from Bakersfield, across the Kern River Bridge, and north to Stockton. It is now North Chester. In 1910 it was named "Hughes Avenue."
Hughes, the self-appointed 'mayor' of the settlement, built a business frontage consisting of a popular tavern, general store, blacksmith, butcher shop and a bakery that turned out 2,000 loves of bread daily to satisfy the demand of the sprawling oilfield community of 7,000 inhabitants. He used two delivery trucks in this booming business, delivering food, ice, and merchandise to the homes on the oilfield leases. This trading center was the beginning of Oildale and was located between Ferguson Avenue and Cooper Avenue on the east side of North Chester Avenue. Combined with the Hughes' business center, Andrew Ferguson had a feed, seed and firewood business as well as his lively real estate sales and house building in the Waits area. The first 30 houses in Waits were built by Ferguson, Hughes and Cooper. Three streets named in their honor still intersect North Chester near Standard School. Hughes developed a domestic water system as well as an electric generating plant to serve the new community he helped develop. He also graded and oiled the streets.
In 1913, Mary Elizabeth Crane moved to Bakersfield from the East and bought half interest in the general store in Waits. The store was the place people received their mail so it was established as a US post office on March 15, 1916. Mrs. Crane named the post office "Oildale," considering the railroad siding name of Waits inappropriate for the new city. For a few years, Waits and Oildale were both used as the town's name, but eventually "Oildale" was accepted. In 1925, the Oildale Southern Pacific freight depot changed its name from "Waits Station" to "Seguro Station." The structure of Seguro Station still stands as a private residence on Norris Road one-quarter of a mile east of North Chester Avenue.
During the 1920s and '30s, Kern County began taxing the oil companies for the houses and other structures they owned on their leases which prompted the companies to begin moving those houses off their oilfield property and selling them to employees. Originally, more than 150 houses were located in the Oil Center area. Multiple scores of oil field houses were moved into Oildale and many can still be seen on Decatur or Belle Streets and all through that general area. This was the demise of Oil Center and of free rent for families living on the oil leases. Many generations of those original hard-working, self-sufficient oil field workers continue to live in or around Oildale. Essentially, over those years, the communities of Oil Center and Oil City were moved from their sites in the Kern River Oil Field leases into the city of Oildale.
As years passed, many other real estate developers subdivided tracts in old Oildale. In May 1916, the first, modern, planned housing tract was opened by real estate developer, T. W. McManus. The community was called Highland Tract and the streets were named for past U.S. Presidents. Washington Avenue was the street upon which the first homes were constructed. The new tract featured water piped to each lot as well as natural gas and commercial electricity. The streets were oiled and trees and shrubs were planted throughout the area. Arp addition and Riverview along the river were built prior to Highland but they lacked any utilities or paved streets. Arp Tract suffered from flooding each time the Kern River got high, which in mid-1929 resulted in new, higher levees being constructed by Kern County to protect Oildale.
Annexation to the City of Bakersfield was feared and fought against by the citizens of Oildale for years. The people of this city were determined to stay "Oildale" because Oildale is more than a community, it's a personality and way of life. They won the long fight and became an unincorporated suburb to Bakersfield. Oildale's mailing address was changed to 'Bakersfield' after the Oildale Post office was closed on October 1, 1954.
About midnight, April 16, 1938, flickering red colors completely lighted the skies north of Bakersfield prompting hundreds of concerned citizens to telephone their friends and start driving north fearing the whole Kern River oilfield was afire. To everyone's amazement, it was only a massive display of the Aurora Borealis, commonly called "Northern Lights." Never before had we seen the beautiful display of moving colors that normally are not seen this far south of the Arctic.
Although Oildale is today generally lumped into the group termed "North Of The River," which includes Rosedale, Fruitvale, Greenacres, and others. But to its residents, it is still the old city of Oildale bordering the greatest oilfield in the nation.
By George Gilbert Lynch 12-10-06